Spring Rain

North Fields - After Spring RainAn evening look on the fields after the rain storm. Here is a favorite poem by Sara Teasdale (1884 – 1933), an American poet. A fitting poem for the season.

Spring Rain
by Sara Teasdale

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
To-night with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

I remembered a darkened doorway
Where we stood while the storm swept by,
Thunder gripping the earth
And lightning scrawled on the sky.

The passing motor busses swayed,
For the street was a river of rain,
Lashed into little golden waves
In the lamp light’s stain.

With the wild spring rain and thunder
My heart was wild and gay;
Your eyes said more to me that night
Than your lips would ever say. . .

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
To-night with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.


Guest Bathroom Dissection

The saga of the guest bathroom continues as the removal of old wallpaper ensues. I started with the small hall that connects the guest bathroom with the soon-to-be office, coat closet, and the main central hall. My first attempt was to use a clothes steamer (it’s all I had!) to essentially create so much moisture in the small hall that the wallpaper began to peel away.

Lucky for me, there were two layers of wallpaper – one definitely more attractive that the other – your personal preference can dictate which is which. My guess is that the green stripe is from the 1950s after the house was renovated and painted in 1940; the flowers are unfortunately from the 80’s. The stripe could just be the paper liner for the other, but it seems a bit too nice to be just a liner.

After the trials of the clothes steamer, my dear friend Julie loaned me her wallpaper steamer which made much more sense. We were able to complete removal in the guest bathroom as well, finding a very striking midnight blue paint underneath.

With the wallpaper gone, we began rewiring the electrical from the over-the-mirror light to the ceiling, to accommodate the new chandelier. That’s the beauty of high ceilings – you can be graced by chandelier lighting while washing your hands.

While one rewired, the other worked to stabilize the finish on the old trim. Much of the paint was flaking off and some of the wood needed filling and sanding. Once that was done, the pine floors and trim could go back in! It has been six months since we had floors in that part of the house and it will be nice to have them back. Mike, the plaster guy, comes next week and we’re that much closer. The toilet, sink, hardware, and lighting have arrived, waiting to be installed. Until next week with another bathroom update.

“This Beehive’s a Honker!”

To set up my second beehive, I bought my second nuc of bees on Sunday and got them all settled into their new home. I bought these from Mike, the beekeeper that taught our class. He is very knowledgeable and has four bee yards all over the county. Mike has a lot of favorite sayings, and as he called it, this beehive’s “gonna be a honker!” When he took the top off at his yard, the bees were literally spilling over the sides.

They were ready for a larger home, and I had to work hard on Saturday to stain and seal the second hive components and also build their frames with foundation. I used the same method that I used with hive one and love how they look. I have been very happy with the Brushy Mountain Bee Farm equipment. By today, I have already put on the second super for them. This hive is very strong and the queen is moving quickly – she’s a beauty too! Thankfully, she won’t require any of Mike’s “mash therapy” as long as she keeps performing well.


Now I just have to do my best to keep up with them – I’ll need a lot of sugar for the next few weeks! And who knows, maybe this is the hive that will give me honey in my first year.

Bathroom Overhaul

20131222_152614Our first [major] home renovation project has been the 1/2 bathroom on the first floor, the primary guest bath. Yes, there has been lots of plumbing work, sporadic electrical, and lots of small jobs, but this is our first overhaul. And of course, it was pretty bad. Here is a photo from the real estate listing. As always, click the photo for a larger view.

Despite its condition, demolition is always the fun part, or at least the easier part. You can rip stuff out and see results fairly quickly. The problem is that you may not always like what you find underneath! This was definitely the case here.

IMG_4968 We first discovered a somewhat deteriorated subfloor. The previous “handyman” had simply attached a piece of plywood to rotting boards, mitigating the problem instead of properly relaying new pine. Thankfully, neither of us could just put new flooring on top and pretend like the problem didn’t exist. This is where OCD comes in handy.

Unfortunately, to replace the subfloor, we had to raise the main corner post just slightly to remove the plywood. And this is where it gets interesting… We found that a primary load-bearing post, running about 10 feet tall had been about 80% eaten by some wood-boring bug a long time ago. There wasn’t much left. 20140208_115346

And so began the journey to find a white oak post to replace it. We searched all over the area for 4×6 (real dimensions) at least 10 feet long. We stumbled upon Ferguson Sawmill near Fredericksburg and they were awesome. They had three beautifully milled white oak posts, each about 13 feet long. We grabbed two and with help from the Colonel, got one put perfectly into place. We’re saving the other one as backup for the next time we open up a wall and find mayhem…20140316_170543               IMG_5239








With the primary post replaced, the subfloor repaired, and the plumbing switched out from copper to PVC, it was now time for a layer of durock – a stable cement board that we can easily lay a new tile finish on. Next will be the wallpaper removal, plaster repair, and new tile. The fixtures, hardware, tile, and lighting are already ordered – we are so close! Stay tuned for an update next week.

Bees at Home

The first colony of bees has arrived and they are feeling quite at home in their new hive. My mentor, John, came by and we transferred them from his wooden nuc box into my eight-frame super. After only three days, they had already begun drawing comb on the new foundation, had eaten quite a lot of the supplemental syrup that I had given them, and the Queen had already laid eggs in almost every available cell.


I gave them another jar of syrup and will check on them next weekend. Their pollen baskets were all full, some light yellow and some a very deep orange – they have been exploring the yard and found a lot of new flowering plants. The black locust, iris, holly, chickweed, and all of the wildflowers have been top of the menu.

And as if things weren’t rolling already, I got an email tonight that my second nuc is ready for pick-up. I guess I better get the second hive painted stat.

IMG_5428In other news, the King George Farmers’ Market is open and everyone is selling jam. I bought a muscadine and a blackberry – Sunday was about jam tasting. You know I love a good jam – any flavor (within reason) – bring it on!

King George Farmers’ Market

Susan G Komen Moth

IMG_5375I found the most amazing moth on the back door! Vibrant pink and yellow, with the coolest fuzzy antennae and yellow cotton ball for a head. First documented in 1793 by Danish entomologist John Christian Fabricius, the Dryocampa Rubicunda, also known as the Rosy Maple Moth, is most often found in red, silver, and sugar maple habitats.

I was quite sad to come back later and find that the killer cats had swatted it down. I gave it a proper grass burial but hope to see more this summer – I know they’re kind of shy.

Check out more on the Rubicunda and other bugs at the Bug Guide.

The Bee-man Cometh

Well, that day is close at hand. I got the email that my bee nuc is ready to be picked up. I finally got the hives prepped and the hive stand will be built this weekend. I really think that they will like their new home at White Plains – everything is in bloom from the orange trees, the black locust, to the unknown fruit trees. They will have quite a feast. The cool thing about my first nuc is that I helped my mentor, John, with the final steps of his nuc splits – I will be getting one of his, likely one that I helped with. Below is a picture of us working on them last week.


When trying to decide whether to paint or stain/seal my hives, I read countless forums, talked to my bee mentor, and debated whether or not I was willing to touch them up each year, or more. In the end, I kept remembering my bee teacher’s guidance that bees are about trial and error. There are few absolutes. Try something, see if it works, and either replicate it the next time or find a new opportunity. So, I decided to stain the woodenware and seal it. I’m really happy with the results and hopefully the bees will be also.


And so goes life – we try things and hope that they work. Sometimes they do, and we celebrate. Other times, we learn how to do it differently next time. Either way, it’s about the experience.